I have worked for attorneys for many years. I know how hard the job is. I know how intelligent they are and I know the pride that comes with introducing yourself as a litigator. But all that aside, no one likes to do anything that they aren’t good at. Many attorneys and their staff have already established a solid reputation as seasoned litigators and legal professionals and revealing any inadequacies at this point, especially in a room full of colleagues at a conference, is going to be uncomfortable.
In an effort to help you get the ball rolling, I put together a short series of Litmus tests so you can privately determine where you might land on the technical competence spectrum. Before we get started, I would like to introduce you to the term, ‘eCompetence”. eCompetence is a combination of having the ability to work electronic discovery and the relevant technology. That’s our goal for you. This is Part 1 of III.
I have provided custom, private services within firms for years, so that organizations can learn in a private but vulnerable environment. So within that type of setting, let’s start by pondering the following questions to establish a level of awareness. As you move through these questions, make notes about your findings since this will, in effect, establish your own customized syllabus for the future:
1. If given the opportunity, could you approach your liability carrier and document your efforts to limit liability and risk due to your level of technical competence?
2. Do you know if the state(s) in which you practice have adopted, rejected, or ignored the ethical duty of technical competence?
3. Do you know if your local bar association has adopted, rejected, or ignored the ethical duty of technical competence?
4. Do you know what the American Bar Association, “ABA” means by “maintaining competence”?
a. If not, is it necessary for them to provide you with a “clear” definition or path to get started?
5. Despite what the state is or is not requiring with regard to what you “shall” do with technical competence, where do “you” want to be?
6. Would you be more inclined to participate in continued education regarding technical competence if you were in a private learning environment so that your inadequacies are not revealed to anyone outside of your organization?
So how did you do? I wish I could sit right next to you and applaud you for even finishing this article. The next steps are to identify gaps, develop a strategy with the associated action items and start a movement toward working with your colleagues. There are many experienced consultants, mentors, instructors and experts available to you. Look for a partner that will meet the organization where they are, create a learning environment that is fun and relevant, and stimulate your successes.